Serena Gaia

Make love the ecology of your life

9 of 12 | Monday is for Religion: “Those Sizzling Seniors,” by Alice E. Van Pelt

Hi lovely Earthlings!

Yours truly is back with another of Alice’s poems.  This time she talks about how it feels to be a “senior,” to get “older.”  Oh well, aren’t we all going to feel that way–if we’re lucky enough to stick around!  Yours truly is absolutely ignorant about Protestantism, especially the American denominations, and so she had to educate herself about Presbyterianism.  And sure enough she found out that the Elders are respected.  How nice!  Being raised by a grandmother always helps a young girl respect old age.  Yours truly is aware.  And Alice experienced that as well.  As an adult, she lived in New Jersey, where the toxic soup that produces so many of the chronic illnesses of today is particularly thick, including industrial waste, nuclear plants, soil, water, and air contamination, and much more.  She suffered and died from one of them.  Yet in this poem she celebrates the seniority of age.  Seniors are ablaze with a special kind of energy: more subdued, more long-standing, wiser and steadier.  Old age can be a fun age if one relishes one’s memories.  Remembering past events with joy can be just as much fun as being part of them once was.  One may not attend in person, but once the memory is written in the body the dream can stay awake.  And of course, more longevity, more cherished memories. 

As Alice remembers:


Don’t write us off yet, cause we’re ready to roll
Just see what you get when you’re calling us old
You forget that we have been where you’re trying to go
And we have the skin from the battles to show.
Alice E. Van Pelt
Like a TIMEX watch we’ve been taking a licking.
But also we’ve found that we have kept on ticking.
We’ve learned to slow down to a steady pace–
Keeping ourselves still in the race.
We try to remember the things that we have done.
The trials, tribulations and the prizes we’ve won.
Somehow the mind doesn’t work the same
And you look around but there is no one to blame.
There is always a place that you want to be
But somehow you wonder if that’s for me.
You have searched and wandered near and far
But can’t remember where you are.
Once the mystery of it all was in the old faces.
Now you realize that you have just changed places.
We have danced and pranced and kicked real high
Now you sit and dream and wonder why.
September 8, 1999
From the poetry collection of Alice E. Van Pelt, published here with permission from her descendants, gratefully acknowledged.

Dear Earthlings: 
Did you notice the wisdom of these words?  Alice wants to be seen as senior, not old.  Senior, as in one worthy of respect, not “over the hill,” as they say.  Senior, as in one whose wisdom has accrued with experience.  And isn’t saving one’s energies part of that wisdom as well?  One can interpret this poem from the point of view of an artist of love.  The wisdom Alice claims speaks of one who lived life in an artistic way.  The art of living is what she calls attention to as she claims her senior place in the world. That, yours truly bets, is the message she wants all descendants to get. 
More poems from Alice coming.  Stay tuned for next.  We will post every Monday at noon.

Did you enjoy the post?  Let us know!  Yours truly appreciates your attention.  The comments box is open.

Come back!  And stay tuned for more wonders.


Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
Author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love and many other books
Professor of Humanities

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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serenagaia • October 24, 2011

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